All you need is shopping – Chapter four


All you need

All you need




It’s the end of the day and I’m at the register with Marta, the strange unionist. Her inverted use of auxiliaries amuses me. I invented, with ill-concealed presumption, a legend according to which she was electrocuted after reading Fromm’s essay, To have or to be?, certain that her answer would have given me further points of derision; instead, Martha surprised me by merely replying that “yours, Canapone, is envious because I did taken your sofa. The important thing is to speak simply and clearly and be understood by everyone!”

It’s the summary of communication, in fact. Regarding the past of the union, I am very vulnerable and have not been able to argue.

Today, we had huge queues and non-stop production because our staff has been reduced due to sickness. It was tough, but we’re almost done with the shift. It turns out that it’s difficult to work alongside Martha because she can go on for an entire afternoon with weird, random questions. All of this happens with the customers around us who listen, giggle and intervene.

– Canapone, thinking about it, why didn’t you have married?

– Martha, it’s six in the afternoon, you’ve been tormenting me with these questions all day long!

– Maybe you don’t like females?

– Martha, please, there are other people.

– There’s nothing wrong with being a fag – a lady meddles in line at Martha’s register.

– I don’t think so; there is little to be happy about if you don’t like girls – she answers my colleague.

– Martha, for God’ sake, I’m not gay: is that clear?

– Okay, but don’t say it with that tone… – continues the lady in line.

– Yup, the tone – says Marta – oh well, let me shut up, that would be better!

– Ah, thank goodness – I conclude.

The closing announcement arrives. We have cleared the queues and are waiting for the last customers to proceed with the end-of-day checks.

– Canapone, do you want some advice?

– No.

– Oh, so that’s how you answer a person who cares about you?

Her face is really hurt and to prevent her from pretending to be offended and so that she leaves me alone at the register, I reply,
– Martha, I’m kidding: let me hear some of your advice.

– Why don’t you get married to the director? I think she hates you because she loves you. Plus, you’d be doing us all a favor.

– And what would this favor be?

– And what would it be? You never understand: Canapone, has anxiety, she thinks too much about work; shut me up!

Between her last word and my silence, we suddenly find both of ourselves with a gun aimed pointed to the head: – don’t turn around, put your hands in view and open the drawers, or else we’ll blow your head – a calm but authoritative voice says behind our backs; the coldness of the barrel on my head is nothing new to me, but it always produces the same effect: it convinces.

There are two of them; I can only see the one behind Martha’s counter: a short guy with a baseball cap and a scarf covering his face. They empty the drawers and escape from the mall. Everything takes place in barely one minute. Nobody notices a thing. We notify the office and the manager rushes to the registers. She invites the remaining customers to leave the merch because we no longer have cash for the rest, apologizing for the inconvenience. She asks us to make the deposit list in order to verify the cash shortage. The police arrive to ask the usual questions, the number of robbers, a description, remarkable phrases and other wits.

The director shows her understanding and is worried, but Guidozzi is on his way. He doesn’t say hi and asks us about our emotional conditions. He briefly talks to the agents and then shouts and calls all three of us to the office. The director, Martha and me.

– Good heavens, you had crates full of bills!

– There were only two of us all day, it’s obvious that the takings were high – I intervene.

– Canapone? You may speak only when questioned.

– They put a gun to my head; I have the right to ask you the reason why there was no supervision, since these things always happen when we are unwatched.

He doesn’t even answer me and turns to the director: – Misses? Can you explain to me why these guys don’t make withdrawals? And when they do, are they that high? Didn’t I recommend making multiple withdrawals throughout the day to avoid having too much cash in the register?

– We had problems with the pneumatic tube transport; I called security but I’m still waiting for any intervention.

– And you had to incite them; call them until you’re exhausted!

– Doctor, – Martha starts talking, – I have had bad day today, and hearing you take it out on us isn’t exactly the best of things.

– Listen to me, dear lady: a robbery is not enough to win my compassion. I don’t just give out justifications. Instead, start following the procedures, because to me it seems there is still too much carelessness on the subject. Am I making myself clear? – He then turns directly to the director, – Miss, I thought I had explained myself. Obviously, I was wrong. Now, you’re making me take drastic measures. I will start with you.

– That’s only fair; I assume the responsibility – she replies.

– Fair? – I intervene, taken by my old unionist habits, looking at the director – you even agree with him?

– Canapone, be quiet and don’t even think about opposing me, – she answers, which leads to my surprise – and, most of all, reflect upon your carelessness as workers, because if each one of you struggle to get better every single day, certain things wouldn’t happen.

– Perfect, director, perfect – echoes excitingly Guidozzi.

– No way, you’re talking nonsense – I say to my superior.

Driven by Guidozzi’s approval, she can’t even hear me out. He continues his monotonal dialogue, while Martha and I are about to exit the room: – Misses, don’t take me wrong here, but I have to punish you for your own good. Listen to me, learn to know me: in humiliations, I see a mystical quintessence. One day you will remember my methods, and you’ll thank me.

– I’m sure of that, – answers the thrilled director.

After the shift, I make my way along with Martha to the parking lot. She’s astounded from what we just heard.

– Have you hear, Canapone?

– Yeah, I heard.

– I thought I was hallucinating.

– Well, yeah, it’s ridiculous.

– Huh?

– Never mind.

– But, Canapone, do you think that they take drugs?

– The thing that worries me, dear, is that they’re probably sober.

– Huh?

– They’re alert; they don’t take drugs and don’t drink. They’re just like that.

– Yeah, I think so too. Anyways, I told you!

– What?

– That the director yearns for you.

– Oh, yeah, definitely.

– I’m never wrong, you know. Bye; see you tomorrow.

We part ways walking off from the center of the supermarket. I feel the need of driving and of listening to my favorite blues music CD. Then, I’ll find a moment to pour all the confusion from my mind.

Martha’s insinuations have little relevance; there couldn’t be a worse couple than the director and me. My grudge against her isn’t disregarded; I’ve always faced empty-headed people, not bosses: in the director, I only see an adult that complains a lot, and a professional at having no idea on how to sell or buy.


It’s a new day. I enter, pass by the office and find Guidozzi with the window dresser, Castellazzi, who seems uncomfortable at the command table. I walk by and head to the changing room. Martha’s at the door.

– You seen, Canappa?

– Yeah, there’s something weird going on. What’s happening?

– Guidozzi is letting Castellazzi play the role of the director and is making him struggle. The truck ran out of gas just a moment ago.

– And how did the director react?

– She’s calm, serene and pleased. On the other hand, Castellazzi was about to start crying out of embarrassment, and Guidozzi had yells at him.

While we were outside the changing rooms to smoke a cigarette, Castellazzi’s trembling voice announces: The director with sawdust at the wine and liquor department.

– He even makes him clean – whispers Martha astonished. It’s a low-intensity day, and we spend it attending the unusual unscheduled event written and directed by Dr. Gagliardo Guidozzi, the new BellaGente Supermarkets’ staff manager.

There’s no one to supervise us today; we just have to watch. “Striking one to educate one hundred” is Guidozzi’s philosophy; she, the director, is happy to sing and bring the cross just like a martyr that’s looking at the staff manager as if he was her savior.

This would have been Vacca’s favorite moment. If only he had been present, he would have coined the right endearment for our sake: Happiness Woman. I laugh by myself and start roaming around the mall with Vacca’s shadow beside me. Nobody to supervise me, nobody that’s looking for me. The world seems as if it forgot about me, and I enjoy this moment.

I go back when it’s time to clock out. I once again encounter Martha who’s removing her make-up in front of the restoration room’s mirror.

– So, see you tonight?

– Where?

– At the dinner organized by the director; almost everyone’s coming.

– No, I certainly don’t think so.

– Oh well, do whatever you want.

I enter the changing room and swap my clothes, and I head home. I almost forgot what tranquility is.



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All you need



All you need

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